Get Your Film Festival Fix at HIFF’s Spring Showcase With These 9 Movies and Docs

Get off the sofa. Spice up your tired life. Check these breakouts from Sundance, Japan, China, Vietnam and more at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival April 5—14. Among the 31 films: rare archival clips and more from the first “Alien,” a rowdy grrl-power “Ophelia,” saving a whale species from cartelistas and more.
Free Solo
The Best Documentary Feature winner at this year’s Academy Awards, Free Solo, is showing on Thursday, April 11.
Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i International Film Festival 


That end-of-winter run-down feeling? The one that comes of weekends and weeknights on the sofa slogging through all those bloated, overly familiar series straight off the Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and HBO assembly lines? It’s over. No more trying to convince yourself that all that factory fast film food is really any good. It’s Hollywood, Jake.


For a refresh and rejuvenation regimen, get some Vitamin HIFF in your life. The HIFF Spring Showcase running from April 5—14 has 31 films straight from Sundance, others from Japan, China, Vietnam, Italy, Austria, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and more. It has The Adventures of SuperCW (*Cancer Happens), our indomitable homegirl’s story (April 6 at 6 p.m., April 13 at 2:30 p.m.).



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There’s one you may know but need to see on the big screen: Free Solo, the Oscar-winning rock-climbing doc (April 11 at 7 p.m.).



There’s a Japan Fest including Whistleblower, about a feral corporation and one of Japan’s biggest hits (April 6 at 8 p.m., April 11 at 5:45 p.m.); Restaurant From the Sky, a let’s-go-farm-to-table foodie feel-good comedy (April 8 at 5:45 p.m.); and horror (horror!).


Fighting fans and Bruce Lee lovers will get their kicks with Master Z: IP Man Legacy, where action legend Yuen Wo Ping directs Michelle Yeoh, Dave Bautista, Tony Jaa and Max Zhang in a fistfest true to the Wing Chun-style kung fu master trained Lee trained in (April 9 at 8:30 p.m., April 13 at 6:45 p.m.).



Memory: The Origins of Alien goes back to the sources for one of the most evocatively designed films since The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (April 6 at 8:30 p.m.). As he did for Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene in 78/52, director Alexandre O. Philippe promises to pry the lid off dusty archival footage, photos and the art inspiration of Alien’s legendary designer H.R. Giger—but also how the film embedded itself in our subconscious. (Wipe that squid off your face, sailor!)


Can Daisy Ridley of Star Wars reboot fame bring the badassery and steal Hamlet’s thunder in Ophelia? We’re there (April 12 at 5:45 p.m., April 14 at 8 p.m.). Beware the poisoned light saber!


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Sundance audience award winner Sea of Shadows turns a documentary eye on the dangerous gambit by scientists, activists and undercover agents to save a rare and endangered whale species from becoming drug cartel roadkill (April 7 at 3:30 p.m.).


And for God’s sake, don’t miss out on Amazing Grace, the Hawai‘i premiere of Aretha Franklin’s 1971 live gospel album recording at The New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Only recently released (even though filmed by Sydney Pollack), the film only existed as rumor until last year (April 6 at 2 p.m., April 8 at 3:30 p.m.). A-maz-ing.



22nd Annual HIFF Spring Showcase, Presented by Halekūlani, April 5—14 at Dole Cannery. Purchase tickets and flash passes at the HIFF box office at 680 Iwilei Road, Suite 100, (808) 447-0577. For more information on the 31 films (and to purchase tickets online) visit


Read more stories by Don Wallace